Not correctly recycling your inhaler is leaving behind a damaging carbon footprint
New research, released today (30/08/2017), has revealed that the majority of the nation’s asthma sufferers are incorrectly disposing of their inhalers.
While most local authorities can recycle certain plastics, some inhalers contain plastics and glasses that are not readily recycled through existing kerbside arrangements.
Over half of the surveyed UK adults are simply disposing of their inhalers in the general waste and a third are using their kerbside recycling service – wrongly thinking they will be recycled1.
Progress has been made in the recycling of respiratory inhalers, with over one million being recycled over the last five years as part of a national scheme – Complete the Cycle. However, as the research shows, there is still far to go when it comes to correctly disposing of them.
To ensure respiratory inhalers are recovered and recycled correctly, GSK’s Complete the Cycle scheme allows people to bring their used inhalers into a pharmacy for recovery.
By taking an inhaler to a local participating pharmacy, the plastic and aluminium parts can be used in other products, and any potentially harmful greenhouse gasses can be collected and reused elsewhere, for example in car air conditioners. So far, the scheme has potentially saved the equivalent amount of emissions as taking 4,5003 cars off the road in the UK
A further added benefit of the scheme is that it encourages patients to visit their pharmacy, giving them the opportunity to seek advice directly from a pharmacist to better understand their condition, improve their inhaler technique and get the best benefits from their medicine.
With around 73 million4 inhalers being used every year in the UK it is important to spread the message on the importance of cutting down the carbon footprint of used respiratory inhalers.
Matt Wilson, GSK’s Head of Global Environmental Sustainability, said: “the great thing about the scheme is that anyone can walk into a participating pharmacy, hand in their inhaler and know that it will go off to be recovered, reused and recycled in a responsible way.”
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1 Data on file, August 2017, UK/OTH/0025/17
2 Data on File, August 2017 (Inhaler Recycling Report May 2017) UK/RET/0037/15(3)
3 Based on the following calculation: 7023 tonnes CO2e (potential saving from recovering 1 million inhalers) * 1.543 (average CO2 emission in tonnes of UK registered cars in 2015) = 4552.
4 Data on File, August 2017 (QuintilesIMS XBPI/HPAI, Units, Jan 16 – April 17/) UK/RET/0081/17